The following was taken from some lecture notes I taught at my church a couple years ago from The Baptist Catechism.
Q.1: Who is the first and chiefest being?
A. God is the first and chiefest being.1
1Isaiah 44:6; 48:12; Psalm 97:9
Note: The first question and answer from the Westminster Confession of Faith begins with man and points to God:
Q.1: What is the chief and highest end of man?
A. Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God and fully to enjoy Him forever.
The Baptist Catechism takes a decidedly more presuppositional and, I would argue, more Calvinistic approach. In Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin begins his instruction by asking whether man must first know himself in order to know God or know God in order to know himself. After much deliberation, he concludes:
“But though the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves are bound together by mutual bond, it is only right that the former is given first place, and then we can come down to the latter.”
Men must first be confronted with the character and nature of God before they can begin to properly assess themselves. God is both the source and the focal point of all truth. Every confession, every catechism, every creed, every gospel presentation should endeavor to begin and end with Him, not man.
God is the first and chiefest being.
“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts:
‘I am the first and I am the last,
And there is no God besides Me.’”
“Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called;
I am He, I am the first, I am also the last.”
“For You are the LORD Most High over all the earth;
You are exalted far above all gods.”
“Should God then be chiefly loved? Yes. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, Luke 10:27. And chiefly feared? Yes. Rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell, Matthew 10:28. And are those happy who are interested in him? Yes. Happy is that people whose God is the Lord, Psalm 144:15.”
John Calvin, The Institutes of Christian Religion (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987), 24.
All citation of the holy Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) except where otherwise noted.
Benjamin Bedomme, A Scriptural Exposition of the Baptist Catechism (Birmingham, AL: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2006), 2.